Director: Russ Hexter
Screenwriters: Russ Hexter, John Housely

Institute History

  • 1996 Sundance Film Festival


Something is not right in Dadetown. This uneasy feeling permeates this extraordinary film even as events unfold beyond the picket fences of this serene community and reveal its essential truths. Dadetown is a small American town struggling to marry old and new. Since the war, it has been dependent on “real” industry: a plant which bends metal for paper clips and staples. Then along comes API, a sleek high-tech firm so wired into cyberspace that even its CEO can’t quite define what it does. Although API proudly beautifies its adopted community with playgrounds and cappuccino bars, the Dadetown folks are suspicious of the yuppie invasion, and tensions mount.

A documentary film that is meticulously created and exquisitely captured, Dadetown seals the truth about itself tightly within this enthralling tale. Dadetown residents offer cautious opinions to a camera crew which increasingly insinuates its way into the rhythms of the town, and when the plant threatens to close, the outlook seems bleak. In Dadetown, director Russ Hexter takes nonfiction storytelling to spectacular new heights. Each interview resonates with authentic concern. Hexter is in the thick of every situation, artfully composing a portrait of a town where the fire crews keep busy by hosing down the streets, and the town’s only grocer buckles under the pressure of running for mayor. Here is the truth about the demise of the American town dwarfed in the withering shadow of a global economy.

— Christian Gaines

Screening Details


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